52 Ancestors: #2 – Henry Wolcott

Biography – Henry Wolcott (1611-1680)
The earliest immigrant I’ve been able to find in my family is my 10th great-grandfather, Henry Wolcott. Now, I  know that I have 512 10th great-grandfathers and that Henry is only one of them, but I can’t imagine an ancestor any more illustrious life than Henry.  

Henry was born on January 21, 1610/11.[1] When I learned the date, I wondered why the date seemed unsure. Was it 1610 or 1611. I had seen some other dates like that and had wondered, but with Henry, I had to understand.
I thought about it and recalled my American history and knew that something was weird with the calendar.  For example, I know that George Washington was born on Feb 11, 1731 but we celebrate his birthday as February 22, 1732.[2]
The reason why is that in 1752, England changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Because they hadn’t been doing leap years correctly the calendar jumped 11 days. So, the day after September 2nd, 1752 was September 14th, 1752.[3]  I’m sure the intent was to further confound genealogists today, the years were shifted as well. I’m not sure I get all the nuances in shifting the dates and years, but the bottom line is that when Henry Wolcott was born the Julian Calendar was in use and the year was 1610, looking back on his life, we users of the Gregorian Calendar would say his was born in 1611.
It is so awesome to find a book about an ancestor’s life. Chandler Wolcott, published a book about Henry’s life in 1875 which is available on Amazon.Com.  Much of the information I have about Henry’s life came from that book.
   
I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly research when Henry came to America, but it was before April, 1634. We know that because, on April 1st, 1634, Henry was “admitted a freeman” by the General Court at Boston (Suffolk County, Massachusetts).  A “freeman” at that time was a person who was given the right to vote because they were over 21, had property worth a certain amount, and fulfilled some other requirements including being adjudged such by the court. When Henry was adjudged a freeman, he was a member of the Dorchester Church. The family, didn’t stay in Dorchester long and in 1636 the family moved to Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut along with the Congregationalists to get away from the puritans. 
On 18 November 1641 Henry married Sarah Newberry. After 14 months, their first child, Henry, was born. Their third child, Samuel Wolcott, was born in 1647 and died only seven months later, on May 10th. 
In the spring of 1654, it appears that Henry returned to England for business.  
On 30 May, 1655, Henry’s father Henry (senior) died. His mother, Elizabeth Saunders Wolcott died 6 weeks later on 7 July, 1655.  Henry was the oldest living son and received the family land in England as well as Henry senior’s two “Books of Martyrs.”[4]  Henry was also the overseer of the will.
Following the sadness of 1655, my 9th great-grandfather, Samuel was born. Samuel was the first boy child born to the Wolcotts after the death of their other son Samuel and was given his name. Another son, Josiah, was born after that.
Henry entered politics. In 1660, Henry was elected to the House of Delegates. 
Courtesy: Bauman Rare Books
In 1662, Connecticut received a charter from His Majesty, King Charles, II. The document was more than a just charter, it was a constitution. It was the first constitution in the colonies and gave the colonists many rights including the right to hold popular elections.  It also provided for checks and balances of the government. Another action was forcing the New Haven colony to become part of the Connecticut colony.  Had that not occurred, who knows, there might be a state of New Haven today – Possibly three little states in a line, Connecticut, New Haven and Rhode Island.  In that original charter document Henry Wilcox is one of the nineteen people identified  as one of the appointed founders of the colony. 
The 1662 Charter of Connecticut is an extremely important document, so much so that Connecticut is know as the “Constitution State.” So, when ever I see a Connecticut license plate that says “Constitution State” I will think of my 10th Great-grandfather, Henry Wilcox and remember our family was a big part of Connecticut history.
Henry Wilcox served Connecticut in the House of Magistrates from its founding in 1662 until his death, 12 July, 1680.
I haven’t had time to check or verify other ancestors of the Wolcott family.  I have seen on the Internet that Sir. John Wolcott was mayor of London in 1403 is an ancestor and that another Sir John Wolcott, of Wales in the 11th century may be our earliest known ancestor.
Because of our family’s relationship to Henry Wilcox, there are several lineage societies that we may be eligible to join including:

Daughters of the American Colonists (Females only)
Order of First Families in Connecticut 
Society of the Descendants of the Founders of Hartford (Probably not. I think this is for Hartford only and not Hartford County.)

I have much more research to do on Henry Wolcott and the Wolcott line. His life alone could be the subject of a complete book. 

Our Great Lineage:

Arthur Durwood Brown’s mother was
Marion Sanford, whose mother was
Mary E. Parsons, whose father was 
Chester Parsons, whose mother was 
Mary Wolcott, whose father was 
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also
Samuel Wolcott, whose father was also 
Samuel Wolcott, (yup, four of them in a row) whose father was
Henry Wilcott 

Footnotes:

[1] The Family of HENRY WOLCOTT by Chandler Wolcott  is available on Amazon.
[2] Confirmed on the National Archives website, http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/washington/
[4] The Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs by John Foxe was an extremely important book in its day.  It is still a classic and highly recommended for Protestants who wish to know about early Christian and Protestant history. 

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